January 31, 2018 – SD CityBeat – John R. Lamb reports – The city of San Diego appears closer itself to hopping on the dockless-bike phenomenon, thanks to a memo issued last week by City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office. Council member David Alvarez, an avid cyclist himself, had asked Elliott if the city’s 10-year exclusive corporate-partnership agreement with DecoBike—currently San Diego’s only bike-sharing service and known for its bulky docking stations—precludes other companies from operating within city limits.
In a word, no.
“Who’s ready for more bikes?!?!” Alvarez tweeted after the memo’s release. Within days, he issued his own memo to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Georgette Gómez, newly minted head of the council’s Smart Growth & Land Use Committee, requesting that “staff prepare a regulatory framework proposal for bike-share programs to operate in the city and that it be docketed for discussion” at an upcoming committee meeting.
A spokesman for Gómez said Monday “there is no timeline yet on this” but it could become clearer after this week’s Smart Growth committee meeting. An Alvarez spokesperson said he is hopeful dockless bikes will be on San Diego streets before 2019.
There are several bike-sharing companies interested in the San Diego market, although most, when contacted by Spin, had little to say. The exception was LimeBike, a San Mateo-based company that already has a presence in Barrio Logan, where the company set up a repair and distribution warehouse.
“We are aware of the news from the city attorney, and are excited about the future of smart, dock-free bike share in San Diego,” said Zack Bartlett, the local general manager of LimeBike, in a statement. He said the response in Imperial Beach so far has been “outstanding,” with nearly 20,000 trips logged.
“Our goal is to provide cities, campuses and communities throughout San Diego with a first, last mile solution,” he said, “and with over 50 percent of our San Diego-area rides starting or ending near a bus stop, we are well on our way.”
A recent story on SANDAG from KPBS noted that San Diego is lagging on construction of its bicycle infrastructure. Dockless bikes, tracked by GPS, provide invaluable data to determine where people are riding and where cities should focus their attention.
Nicole Capretz, executive director of the Climate Action Campaign who helped author the city’s Climate Action Plan, said elected officials still need to focus on making streets bike-friendly with separated bike lanes to get more people to bike.
However, she added, “I think dockless bike share can finally bring the number, convenience and flexibility of bikes we need to actually move the needle on mode shift and likely tackle the first and last mile to bus/transit. That has been the result in Imperial Beach—lots of young people using it for first/last mile.”
Get with it, San Diego.
Read the full article here.